Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Entrance at Disney World

Disney World Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Worth the Extra Cost?

You’ve got your tickets, hotel, and flights, and you’re all set to go to Disney World on a great vacation. But you still have a few more choices to make – the main one now being:

WILL YOU PAY EXTRA FOR GENIE+ AND LIGHTNING LANES???

Genie+ is a new service that rolled out at Disney World in December of last year, essentially like the old Fast Pass system, but not free anymore. (Back in the day, Fast Passes were paper tickets that would give you a window of about one hour to come back to a ride and get in the “Fast Pass” lane, which was much shorter than the regular standby line. If you wanted to ride as many rides as possible, Fast Passes were a must! You could only have one or two Fast Pass reservations at a time, so you had to be strategic about which rides you chose to get them for.)

Now, if you pay $15 per day (per ticketed guest), you get access to Genie+ on the My Disney Experience app, and essentially you make your “fast pass” reservations electronically. You can only book one Genie+ reservation at a time, and you can’t make a new one until you use your current one, or two hours have passed since you made a reservation.

So, if you have a family of 4, and are planning to go to the parks for 6 days, getting Genie+ would cost you an extra $360. (But this doesn’t include paying extra for individual Lightning Lanes.)

Yes, it’s true – even AFTER buying Genie+, there are some rides you still have to pay for individually to get a “fast pass” for – now known as Lightning Lane (LL) passes – and the costs are usually between $8-14 per person. These are the big ticket rides that you probably won’t want to miss, and the standby lines can easily be 1-2 hours long. So, are you willing to shell out another $40 to save time? Is it worth it?

My family just returned from a week-long stay at Disney World, and we opted into getting Genie+ for our party of 4 (myself, my husband, my son, and my mother-in-law) all the days we were there. Below I’ll share what you should consider before purchasing Genie+ or Lightning Lanes, the pros and cons, and what happens if, heaven forbid, a ride you bought a LL pass for breaks down!

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING GENIE+ AND LIGHTNING LANES

1. How crowded will the park be on the day you visit it?
If the park is not going to be super crowded, then it may not be worth it to you to pay the extra money for Genie+. However, our family just visited Disney World from January 10-15, which I figured would be “off-season,” and it was still crazy crowded. I honestly don’t think Disney has an off-season anymore. It’s going to be crowded, you are going to wait in long lines.

2. Which rides are you wanting to ride the most? How popular are they?
Make sure to see which rides you can get passes for with Genie+ (it’s not all the rides). If you are going with small children and only want to ride the carousel over and over – or you are planning to go back to the hotel and go swimming for a good portion of the day – then you may not need Genie+. Some rides that have Genie+ never really seemed to get that crowded (for example, we got a Genie+ pass for Spaceship Earth, but the standby line was only ever 5-15 minutes long). But, if your party wants to ride Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise (typically all long waits) then Genie+ makes more sense.

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family picture Marvel costumes

Behind the Scenes: Easy DIY Marvel Photoshoot 2021

On Sunday my family and I did a makeshift photoshoot in downtown Abilene in our Halloween costumes. I say makeshift because we used only our Google Pixel 4a phones as cameras – and the photographers were myself, my husband, and my 5-year-old son (for a few pictures!) All that to say we are NOT professionals!

But our photos turned out amazing! I couldn’t believe how awesome they looked – I even had a few people ask who we hired to take our pictures! – so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail of how we got some of the shots.

First off, COSTUMES!

We are not professional cosplayers – I bought the Spiderman and Captain American costume off of Amazon. I spent about $35 for the Spiderman costume and $75 for the Captain America costume. My costume did not come with a shield, so I found a cheap plastic kid’s version for about $20 (it’s only about 12 inches in diameter). Dean used a suit and tie he already had for his Loki variant costume, but ended up buying a green vest and the Loki horns, which together were about $50. I made his “Loki for President” button by finding an image online and then using a 2″ button maker in the ACU Library Maker Lab. (Buttons are 5 for $1).

I tried to find some black boots to go with my costume at Goodwill, but the ones I found ended up being too big around my calves, so I opted to just wear black sneakers. You’ll notice Calvin is also wearing his usual Baby Shark tennis shoes in the shots. We could have spent more money and ordered shoes that looked better, but we decided it was good enough!

Overall we spent close to $200 on costumes. Since this was our only expense for this photoshoot, we decided this was a reasonable amount.

Next, CAMERAS!

Dean and I both have Google Pixel phones. Part of why we got them was for the quality of photos they can take. Plus, they have a ton of storage space, so you can take tons of photos until you get exactly the right shot. We also loved using the “portrait mode” to get some great shots – this is a pretty standard feature for most phones.

If you have a smart phone that has come out in the last few years, chances are it will be good enough to get some great pics!

TIME AND LOCATION

We knew we wanted to take photos either at dusk or dawn, since the lighting is the best at those times – and we all promised we would wake up early on Sunday morning to be ready to leave at 7:30am. (Sunrise was around 7:55am CDT.) We also were hoping that downtown would be pretty empty, and it totally was! Now depending on where you live, you may not get lucky to have an entire downtown scene to yourself (perks of living in a small-ish town!) It was also cooler weather, about 50 degrees, so it was a little colder than most would find comfortable (at least here in west Texas) which helped make sure people were staying inside.

I personally LOVE downtown Abilene. And for a Marvel superhero photoshoot, it was a perfect venue for pictures! There were plenty of alleys and brick buildings that ended up being great backgrounds in our photos!

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A Road Trip Gone Wrong (Part 2): Tips For Surviving the Unexpected

December 30th my husband, 4-year-old son and I began a road trip to return home from Arizona. We expected the drive to take around 15 hours (long, but doable) however, due to some unfortunate circumstances, it ended up taking over 30 hours (and we still weren’t even home!)

You can read more about the specifics of our journey in Part 1 – the short version is that because of snow and ice, we got stuck on I-10 (meaning a dead stop) for a total of 14 hours, almost doubling our total travel time. It was 31 hours from the time we started the trip until we were able to rest in a hotel, and by the time we made it to our actual house, it had been 54 hours and 8 minutes from when we left (thanks to my Dad for keeping track of the time!)

If you ever happen to find yourself stranded on the highway for many hours due to circumstances out of your control (heaven forbid!), I hope the following tips may serve you well.

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